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Amazing patient reunion
It was hugs all round this morning (11 December) for Mt Evelyn CFA members when they were reunited with a patient they helped save almost one year ago to the day, just 300 metres from the original crash site.
Lani Brereton was “incredibly lucky” to survive after being involved in a head on collision with a drunk driver on December 14 last year.
Lani was travelling along Baileys Rd Mt Evelyn on her way home with her young daughter when the van travelling along the wrong side of the road hit her car head-on pushing it into a tree and rolling it sideways.
Alcohol and speed were a significant part of the crash Lani said at today’s reunion with members from Police, Ambulance Victoria and CFA.
One of the incident controllers on the day, Mt Evelyn Captain Rick Ventrella, recalls Lani’s car was a “mangled wreck,” and to this day he is still amazed her daughter who was in the passenger seat did not suffer more serious injuries.
“Indigo [Lani’s daughter] sustained a small cut to the head and that’s about it.”
Lani however suffered extensive injuries including collapsed lungs, a broken knee, leg and foot and serious head injuries. She was in a coma for 10 days before miraculously regaining consciousness on Christmas Eve last year.
Captain Ventrella said it was a delicate and long operation to free a trapped Lani from the car, taking just over an hour on a humid 29 degree day.
“Lani was conscious and talking to us and she was in a pretty good state considering the extent of her injuries. Her main concern was the welfare of her daughter.
“The main focus during the extraction process was keeping Lani stable, and we did what we could before the paramedics arrived.”
After firefighters freed Lani she was treated by paramedics and airlifted to the Alfred Hospital where she technically died on the way.
It’s been a long and painful recovery for Lani since then who still hasn’t returned to work, however she wants to use her painful experience to urge others to be safe on the roads this Christmas.
CFA Firefighter Steve Deakins from Mt Evelyn brigade who also helped free Lani said it was incidents like this that made being a volunteer worthwhile.
"It was rewarding to see our work on that day helped save a life.
“We do it because we love it and we’re here to serve the community – but it can a toll when we attend tramatic incidents like this one – so to have a happy ending is just great.”
Captain Ventrella recalls that, although it was a very confronting scene for all involved, there was an amazing sense of calm between the three emergency services: Police, Ambulance Victoria and CFA.
“This incident was really a perfect example of emergencies services working as one.
“The camaraderie between emergency services during the incident was just fantastic – we work a lot better together than what people know.
“It’s great to be back here today to see Lani healthy and certainly in a very different state to the last time we saw her- it’s a fantastic end result.
“We have a job to do and often that means we are there to witness the misfortune of others, but we do what we do because we love it.”
As for Lani she’s looking forward to a much better Christmas this year with daughter Indigo positive “it will be the best Christmas ever” now that her mum is well on the way to a full recovery.